It’s fun for me to take trips back to the States because I notice things now that I never used to when I lived there. Nowadays I’m more accustomed to Polish culture, so some things are really surprising about life and culture in America for me, as I imagine they would be for (I wanted to write “other” here like I’m also a Pole, haha) Poles as well. Water fountains? Cute. Not impossible to buy liquor on Sundays? Weird! Free refills on drinks? Awesome! Read more to find out what else I found surprising on my last trip back to America.
1. People getting shot on a daily basis.
This is first and foremost the absolute most shocking thing for me. This is just a normal occurrence in the States. “Someone got shot today on the corner of…” is something you can hear on the news constantly. And it seems like everyone is just so jaded that they just accept it! I even heard someone in my family say in response to that sort of news report “Oh, just another day in Orlando”. How has this become so commonplace that we aren’t even phased by someone getting shot? Can you imagine if that was happening in Poland or Europe in general? It’s really hard to imagine. I can’t understand why people allow it to keep going on like it’s ok.
2. The number of restaurants
It’s really hard to imagine how all the restaurants manage to stay open as there is so much competition but they all seem to be packed at lunch time and often at dinner you have to wait for a table. I guess people just eat out a lot more than in Poland.
3. The multiculturalism
Living in Poland, which is pretty much just straight, white, Catholic people, you forget what it’s like to live among people of different races, ethnicities, sexualities. It’s nice to go back and spend time with people who are different than me.
4. The extreme friendliness
Americans, bless them, can be friendly to a fault. Every time you see a neighbor or someone at the store you have to have a small chat. It’s nice that neighbors, even those who don’t know each other, say hello. That I really like because here in Poland… not so much… but sometimes in the States it can be too much, in fact. It can be annoying cause I don’t wanna chat with everyone all the time and it seems artificial when it’s someone you really don’t know. Something between America and Poland would be a perfect medium. My husband also says it’s weird that we call people we don’t know by name like people working at stores. I guess we want to be friendly with everyone and it seems cold to call someone ma’am or sir.
5. Water fountains
I love this because I’m thirsty all the time and if I forget water I’m dying. So it’s useful that at airports or parks they have water fountains for people to use. They might not be the cleanest things on earth but sometimes you just need a little sip.
6. Free water in restaurants
Again, water. With ice! Not very common in Europe. I usually don’t drink anything at restaurants in Poland because I can’t stand paying for water, but when I go back to the states I forget that it’s normal to get tap water for free and free refills on drinks like coke and drip coffee.
The actual sales in Poland are like normal days at stores in the States. A lot of stores give coupons to customers who have a credit card from their store and they offer really good deals, like 20% off one item, just to get you in the store. In Poland, there’s basically nothing like that. Or there is a point system but you have to collect points for like 5 years just to get one discount. On Black Friday most stores had at least 30% off, some 50% or 60% off the whole store. If that happened in Poland, people would kill each other.
8. Liquor stores and special days/times for buying alcohol
In Florida, I don’t know about the rest of America, you can only buy liquor in special liquor stores, not in grocery stores or supermarkets. Also, again in Florida, you can’t buy liquor, so hard alcohol, on Sundays. I guess it’s a religious thing. Imagine if that were a thing in Poland!
I really can’t believe people still use checks in America, but they do! It’s like, why?? Checks are risky, they take time to process and you have to fill them out! In Poland, everyone makes bank transfers or pays by card (or I guess old people pay for stuff at the post office, but still). DUH. Time to get rid of these ancient forms of payment! Also, there’s no Paypass!
So clearly I had a lot of reflections on my last trip to America. Each trip shows me how year by year I’m morphing more and more into a Pole. It’s kinda weird but I feel less and like American and more and more Polish. Like I even say “them” when I talk about Americans now and “us” when I talk about Poles! How strange indeed!